When you’re the only one of your close friends that is a mom or dad, it can be hard to keep the lines of communication open with your childless pals. It can be equally as tough to stay in touch with your friends who are also parents – because things get hectic. But, it doesn’t have to be so difficult. In fact, there’s plenty you can do to stay close to your friends while you’re raising your little ones. Below, you’ll find 10 tips to keep you connected.
Use social media wisely. It’s a lifeline for staying connected, but it’s worth some strategy. Consider making a “close friends” list, so high-priority people show up at the top of your news feed; then make it a point to message them and comment on things going on in their lives. Consider making a special group for friends who enjoy sharing parenting advice, so your TMI questions about placenta pills reach a limited audience.
Use the ‘hide’ feature. We all have that fabulous single friend who throws us into a spiral every time she posts photos from her five-star ski trips and bikini yacht adventures. Why agonize? She’ll never notice if you “hide” her status updates. Instead, connect in the real world and get beyond her Facebook image. You might find she wants to settle down, and those family adventures you share have the same effect on her.
Be interesting. If all you ever want to discuss are the joys and irritations of parenting, even friends with kids will get bored. Remember why you connected in the first place. Was it because you shared an interest in local music, a love of great food or the same sense of humor? The Rohdas’ best friends are childless, but talk remains a lively mix of current events, hobbies and other things they have in common. “Our conversations are rarely just child-rearing based,” says Amanda Rohda, with MOMS of Berkley. “We do not talk about kid stuff.”
Create traditions. Each fall my husband goes up north with the guys, and it’s the only time he sees one of his still-single friends. Whether it’s a hunting trip, spa getaway, book club or holiday party, building traditions – and sticking to them – will ensure you get together. Local mom Leah Lynady says she and some friends rotate a monthly girls night. “Those of us with kids leave them at home and get to enjoy a kid-free night with our girlfriends. It has worked out well for a few years now,” Lynady says.
Foster ‘aunts ‘ and ‘uncles.’ My husband’s long-time bachelor friend is a hockey buff who gave our son his first stick and took him down to the ice. Now, our son always looks forward to seeing “Uncle Jeff.” Hype your best friends as “aunts” or “uncles.” Their great chocolate chip cookies or mean high fives are simple ways to connect with your kids.
Be a connector. If you can’t find (or afford) a babysitter for happy hour, why not throw your own party? Invite friends with and without children and set up activities to keep the kids busy while you mix and mingle. Consider a light brunch, so you can still hit your mom bedtime. Or see if friends want to tag along on outings you already have planned. Joining you at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum or Detroit Kid City in Southfield will bring out their kid at heart.
Mark milestones. Don’t just obsess over planning the perfect Pinterest party for your own children. Keep track of your friends’ birthdays too, and wish them well on social media. Better yet, send them a handwritten note with a gift card to a coffee shop and an invitation to spend it with you. Then keep your promise to meet.
Make a date for the gym. Whether you go to Zumba or barre, make your bestie a workout buddy. It will help you stick to your resolution to bounce back after baby while giving you and your friend a chance to meet up and share some inspiration.
RSVP. Even if you have to refuse friends’ invitations for the umpteenth time, don’t just leave them hanging. Explain why you can’t come and propose another alternative that does work. If you can make an event, find out beforehand if kids are welcome instead of just showing up with your stroller in tow.
Be honest. The foundation for any good relationship is communication. Open up with your friends. Let them know how much they mean to you. And be honest with yourself. Are you really too busy to get together or are you using your kids as an excuse? Once you’ve shared your feelings, it’s their turn. Sometimes listening is the true mark of being a good friend.